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December 30, 09

NEWS / Seizing Marijuana in Furniture Contributes to Busy Christmas Week for CBP Officers in El Paso


El Paso, Texas - U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at El Paso area ports of entry made several marijuana seizures during the Christmas week. CBP officers confiscated a total of 1,682.12 pounds of marijuana.


The largest seizure of the holiday week was made on Thursday, December 24, at the Bridge of the Americas cargo facility concealed in wood furniture. The seizure was one of 19 drug busts CBP officers made during the Christmas period.

The seizure was made at approximately 10:52 a.m. when a 1993 yellow GMC Top Kick box truck hauling a load of wood furniture entered the BOTA cargo facility from Mexico. CBP officers selected the vehicle for a gamma-ray exam and identified several anomalies in the appearance of the shipment. The vehicle was moved to the inspection dock where a CBP drug sniffing dog searched the shipment and alerted to the cargo. CBP officers inspected the furniture and found numerous wrapped bundles concealed in the shipment. CBP officers removed a total of 92 marijuana-filled bundles from the shipment. The seized marijuana weighed 613 pounds.


U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agents arrested 54-year-old Armando Valentin Lizardo-Munoz of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico in connection with the failed smuggling attempt.


“Although most people were celebrating the holidays with family and friends, some people still tried to smuggle into the United States. Our officers have been busy helping those who are legitimately traveling to the US and stopping those that aren’t.” said Ana Hinojosa, U.S. Customs and Border Protection director of Field Operations in El Paso.


In addition to the drug busts, CBP officers working at ports of entry in El Paso, West Texas and New Mexico made a total of nine seizures of agricultural items. Violators paid $1,900 in penalties in association with the violations. Prohibited food products seized included apples, oranges, sugarcane, guavas, pork sausage, pork meat, and pork tamales.


CBP officers recorded 73 immigration violations at area ports this week including 18 imposters. CBP officers remain vigilant. Their thorough and diligent document exam process combined with their interview techniques helped in catching two alien smugglers. Imposters generally will use a legitimate entry document assigned to another person and present it as their own. Violators generally lose their documents, can be prosecuted and go to jail and/or are returned to Mexico.


CBP officers seized documents from 55 intended immigrants. In these cases, individuals will use a legally issued border-crossing card (laser visa) to live or work in the U.S., which is not authorized. They also lose their documents and are generally returned to Mexico.


CBP officers working at area ports made a total of 24 fugitive apprehensions during the period.


While anti-terrorism is the primary mission of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the inspection process at the ports of entry associated with this mission results in impressive numbers of enforcement actions in all categories.

http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/newsroom/news_releases/12292009.xml

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